Police offer free anti-crime training

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May 31 conference aimed at church officials, others

A special conference to help local churches and other faith-based organizations handle crime and safety issues is being offered by the Denton police.

The second annual Faith Based Crime Prevention Conference, set for May 31 at the Denton Public Safety Training Center, will touch on an array of topics including emergency response readiness for congregations and staff, how to appropriately respond to a confrontation and how to build and manage a safety team, according to Officer Shane Kizer, event organizer.

“We will play videos for the class where a situation will be played out, and once whatever the situation may be reaches the high point, we will stop the video to open discussion on what to do next before resuming the video,” Kizer said. “The scenarios are something anyone could face, so even if you are not a church leader, the education provided will be beneficial.”

Last year, the police department partnered with First Baptist Church of Denton to offer training to numerous church leaders, and officials hope this year’s event is even larger. Church leaders and members of the public from across Denton County are encouraged to attend the free conference, police said. Bonnie Armstrong, director of the Shaken Baby Alliance, will be the guest speaker.

Kizer said attendees will be able to network and build relationships with not only law enforcement, but with other church leaders as well.

“Networking is essential and those tried-and-true practices that might work for one organization might work well for another, but we will not know until leaders exchange information,” he said.

Jack Taylor, an elder of seven years with Singing Oaks Church of Christ in Denton, went to last year’s conference and said he is more than looking forward to the upcoming event.

“We have had situations this past year that, had it not been for the seminar, I would not have known the correct way to defuse the situation,” Taylor said. “It was a great conference last year and keeps you in the know with different agencies, and that’s always useful information to have.”

As a result of participating last year, Taylor said, his church is in the middle of putting together a five-member safety team.

“We are already tripling our attendance to this year’s conference,” he said. “Things are constantly changing, and freshening up on how to keep your church safe is key. We can’t see everything, so this training will be reinforced to others so they, too, can be the eyes and ears of our congregation.”

The new training facility, adjacent to the police department, is located at 601 E. Hickory St. Breakfast will be available at 7:30 a.m., and the conference will run from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 31, with door prizes to be given away at the conclusion of the conference.

Those interested in attending should contact Kizer at shane.kizer@cityofdenton.com or 940-349-7241.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.

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